President’s Day Derby Prep – Southwest Stakes

February 20, 2011 | Gary Quill

The President’s Day 3-day weekend had a Derby prep race on each day. On Saturday, Mucho Macho Man (7-2) won the Gr.2 Risen Star by 1½ lengths over my #1 ranked Derby hopeful, Santiva (6-1). On Sunday evening at Santa Anita, the Gr.2 San Vicente Stakes was run at 7 furlongs. My pick Sway Away (5-2) got no help on the front end early, as 4-5 Post Time favorite (The Factor) dictated the pace and had enough late to hold off the late charge of Sway Away by 1 length. The final Derby prep race on this holiday weekend is the Gr.3 Southwest Stakes to be run on Monday at Oaklawn Park.


The Southwest is contested at one mile on the dirt. Scheduled Post Time is 6:02pm EST. #5 – J P’s Gusto (9-5) will be a tough favorite to beat here as the one mile distance suits him perfectly. His jockey for this race, “Hired Gun” Ramon Dominguez, fly’s into Hot Springs, Arkansas just 2 days after returning to Laurel Park (MD) to ride and win the Gr.2 Barbara Fritchie Handicap aboard the favorite (Harissa). It seems like Ramon will go to any track to ride the “hot horse” when the regular rider opts to ride elsewhere. In this case, “JP” had been moved from trainer David Hofmans’ care at Santa Anita to Joe Petalino at Oaklawn Park. My take on this switch is that the owners were getting a case of “Derby Fever” but Hofmans realized this ridgling would not be able to get the Derby distance (1 1/4  mile). So Hofmans lost that battle and the horse.


Recently, I talked blog reader Dave from Hollandtown, off of J P’s Gusto as his Derby horse for the reasons given above… BUT that’s not to say he’s a “false favorite” in here. #9 – Elite Alex appears to have the heart of his sire (Afleet Alex), as he had every excuse in the book to just pack it in early in his last race, nearly taken out at the start, gathered himself and put on a great move in the stretch, coming up a head short while battered, cut and bruised. The only negative about that race is the 3rd place finisher (Commander, who “Alex” beat a neck) came back and ran a disappointing 6th as odds on favorite last week. Hopefully, the nearly 5 weeks since Elite Alex’s last race will prove to be plenty of time to have recovered. Finally, Calvin Borel who competed in Dubai on Saturday in an International Jockey Challenge returns to the states to ride Elite Alex. Therefore, he must believe in this colt’s ability as much as I do.


The next Derby prep race is The Fountain Of Youth Stakes, scheduled for Saturday, February 26th at Gulfstream Park.


2011 Derby Prep race Scoreboard

Date        Prep Race              GQ’s Pick               Order of Finish

Jan. 30th Holy Bull                  Dialed In                   Dialed In, Sweet Ducky, Gourmet Dinner

Feb. 5th    Whirlaway           Preachintothedevil   Toby’sCorner JJ’sTrain,Preachintothedevil

Feb. 12th Sam F. Davis           Beamer                    Brethren, Too Experience, Watch Me Go

Feb. 12th Robert B. Lewis      Tapizar                    Anthony’s Cross, Riveting Reason, Quail Hill

Feb. 12th El Camino Real     Positive Response  SilverMedallion,Jakesam,PositiveResponse

Feb. 19th Risen Star               Santiva             MuchoMachoMan,Santiva,RogueRomance 

Feb. 20th San Vicente            Sway Away        The Factor, Sway Away, Premier Pegasus         

Feb. 21st  Southwest              Elite Alex


More selections for Monday, February 21st are available at GQ’s No Chalk Zone.


Enjoy a great day of thoroughbred horse racing. Share the fun with a friend.